Category Archives Europe

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has released its assessment of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)—a group of chemicals that can be found in food and food packaging—and their potential risks to human health. The agency has set the threshold for a group tolerable weekly intake of 4.4 nanograms per kilogram of body weight. EFSA noted that its 2018 assessment considered an increase in cholesterol as the main critical effect of PFAS, but the experts in the 2020 assessment "considered the decreased response of the immune system to vaccination to be the most critical human health effect."

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has completed its health risk assessment for glycoalkaloids in food and animal feeds, especially in potatoes. "Experts identified a health concern for infants and toddlers, considering both mean and high consumers," the agency's announcement states. "Among adults, there is a health concern for high consumers only. Glycoalkaloids poisoning can cause acute gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea." "Based on the latest available knowledge, EFSA derived a lowest observed adverse effect level of 1 milligram per kilogram of body weight per day. This equates to the lowest dose at which undesired effects are observed," according to the statement. "Peeling, boiling and frying can reduce the content of glycoalkaloids in food. For example, peeling potatoes can reduce their content by between 25 and 75%, boiling in water between 5 and 65%, and frying in oil between 20 and 90%."

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a series of measures aimed at limiting advertising for foods high in salt, sugar and fat. The measures include a ban on ads for such foods before 9 p.m., the implementation of calorie counts on food menus and a ban on "buy one get one" deals on some types of foods. The government will also launch "a consultation to gather views and evidence on our current ‘traffic light’ labelling system to learn more about how this is being used by consumers and industry, compared to international examples." The announcement is a reversal from Johnson's previous stance on food advertising limits that he attributed to his diagnosis and recovery from COVID-19. "I've wanted to lose weight for ages and like many people I struggle with my weight," he wrote in The Daily Express. "I go up and down, but during the whole coronavirus epidemic and…

Europol and Interpol have announced the seizure of 320 additional tonnes of "counterfeit and substandard food and beverages" following an operation that involved 83 countries, bringing the operation's seizure total to about 12,000 tonnes. "This year’s operational activities have found a new disturbing trend to address: the infiltration of low-quality products into the supply chain, a development possibly linked to the COVID-19 pandemic," the press release notes. The operation, which focused on dairy foods, olive oil, alcohol and horse meat, also identified counterfeit cereals, grains and derived products as well as coffee, tea and condiments.

The European Commission has announced the adoption of strategies to support biodiversity and “transition to a sustainable EU food system that safeguards food security and ensures access to healthy diets sourced from a healthy planet.” “The coronavirus crisis has underlined the importance of a robust and resilient food system that functions in all circumstances, and is capable of ensuring access to a sufficient supply of affordable food for citizens,” a question-and-answer resource on the program stated. “It has also made us acutely aware of the interrelations between our health, ecosystems, supply chains, consumption patterns and planetary boundaries.” The program’s goals include reduction of chemical pesticides, preservation of soil nutrients, reduction in sales of antimicrobials for farmed animals and aquaculture, and an increase in organic farming by 2030. The program will also include the proposal of mandatory front-of-packaging nutrition labeling and efforts to reduce food waste.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued “COVID-19 and food safety: guidance for food businesses,” which provides information on the risks of transmission of COVID-19 in the food and beverage industry. “It is highly unlikely that people can contract COVID-19 from food or food packaging,” the guidance states. “Coronaviruses cannot multiply in food; they need an animal or human host to multiply.” Instead, it urges industry to “reinforce personal hygiene measures and provide refresher training on food hygiene principles to eliminate or reduce the risk of food surfaces and food packaging materials becoming contaminated with the virus from food workers.” The guidance provides specifics on hygiene standards, such as open food displays and the use of disposable gloves. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also provided several resources for food and beverage companies, including a list of frequently asked questions. The website features regularly updated questions on a number…

France's agriculture minister has reportedly announced that the country will prohibit the mass culling of male chicks shortly after they hatch and ban the castration of piglets without anesthesia in an effort to support animal welfare. The minister indicated his intention to have the regulations take effect by the end of 2021. Germany previously banned the practice, but a court invalidated the law until a method for determining the sex of an embryo in the egg can be developed.

The Portman Group, the U.K. alcohol industry's self-regulatory authority, has upheld a complaint against Trinchero Family Estates for its Ménage à Trois Midnight wine. Zenith Global brought a complaint arguing that the wine's name and marketing copy may breach the code by creating links between the product and sexual activity or sexual success. The panel agreed, finding that the text on the label—including "savour the pleasures of the dark"—did not dispel the sexual connotations of the Ménage à Trois name, which purportedly refers to the wine's blend of three varietals. “In this case, the Panel urged the producer to avoid linking the sexual meaning of the name to the product and remove the text description on the bottle which did this," the panel's chair commented in a press release. "The Panel’s decision is a reminder to all producers that care must be taken when marketing a product to ensure that…

A regulatory committee of the European Union has reportedly voted to prohibit the use of chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl. Member countries voted to withdraw authorization for the insecticide after January 31, 2020, after which companies will have three months to dispose of their stocks of chlorpyrifos. The vote follows an August 2019 determination by the European Food Safety Authority finding that chlorpyrifos has "no safe exposure level."

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a scientific opinion on animal welfare considerations during the slaughter of poultry for food. The opinion provides a "comprehensive overview" of "the entire slaughter process from arrival and unloading of birds through stunning to bleeding and killing." The opinion also identifies hazards that "give rise to welfare issues—such as pain, thirst, hunger or restricted movement—and proposes preventive and corrective measures where possible." Many of the identified hazards relate to the lack of training in personnel; the "advice highlights the importance of staff being adequately trained in the different phases of slaughter and for clear identification of roles and responsibilities." The press release notes that EFSA will publish further opinions on animal welfare in slaughter for pigs, cattle and other species in 2020.